Space Report 2009 now out, and the aerospace industry is doing great

Thursday, April 02, 2009

You can read it here (direct link to pdf of executive summary here).

Let's take a look at some of the more interesting numbers in the summary. First of all, the space industry was one of the only parts of the economy to see growth in 2008:

Amid these substantial economic reverberations, the breadth of worldwide space activity in the past year is all the more remarkable. Significant space-related developments in 2008 included some potential “game changers” with a collection of scientific, government, commercial, and entrepreneurial firsts.
Next, in spite of this growth there aren't enough people being educated in this field so that means easier employment for those that do (so if you're just starting university now this might be a good choice):
Education trends may present a recruiting problem for the U.S. space industry in years to come as interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics declines in U.S. schools, along with academic performance in those areas. In the technology arena, the hold on the popular imagination enjoyed by the space industry in the early years of the space age has slipped, and young people with a technical interest appear more inclined to focus on computer and software engineering career tracks. "The positive side of the workforce picture is that the space industry, despite the economic downturn, appears poised to continue its role as a major jobs producer, and an engine of economic innovation.
Some numbers: a troubled financial environment, the space industry managed to maintain and increase its revenues in 2008, with estimated budgets and revenues from public and private sources of $257 billion. This represents a growth of more than $6 billion over the previous year.
On the ratio of US + Russia compared to other countries conducting launches:
The United States and Russia together accounted for 41 of the 69 orbital launches in 2008. The other 28 missions, representing 38% of the world total, were carried out by other nations or entities, an increase from a 34% share in 2007. China’s emergence as a major space participant continued in 2008 as the nation set a new domestic record of 11 orbital launches.
More on jobs and wages:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. space industry employs more than 262,000 men and women in 41 states including the District of Columbia. Between 2003 and 2007, the U.S. space industry sector added approximately 12,000 jobs at pay scales far above national averages. In just the commercial space transportation sector, the direct valuation according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is $23 billion, and $139 billion when secondary and tertiary industries are included. This value exceeds 1% of the country’s gross domestic product.

For the five-year span ending in 2007, space industry employment grew by 5.1%. Space industry jobs reward the years of education and training needed to produce aerospace engineers and scientists, paying an average annual salary of $88,092 in 2007, about the same as in 2006 and still roughly double the average salary of U.S. professionals in the private sector. also has its own article here. The report is pretty clear: the industry is continuing to grow, new areas (suborbital flights) are just about to start making a profit, and there aren't enough students studying in the field to supply the demand. That means lots of well-paying jobs for those that are willing to invest the time and effort to get a degree in a mentally challenging field.


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